Comcast, other businesses urge Philly mayor not to sign bill addressing wage gap

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 Comcast's David Cohen emerges from Councilman Bill Greenlee's office after a meeting (Tom MacDonald, WHYY)

Comcast's David Cohen emerges from Councilman Bill Greenlee's office after a meeting (Tom MacDonald, WHYY)

A battle is brewing between the business community and the city of Philadelphia.

A bill that is one signature away from becoming law would demand employers not ask job applicants about their salary history.

“It’s a little bit of the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” said Comcast senior executive vice president David Cohen. He said the business community is upset with the salary history bill approved by council in December.

“We’re hearing from companies that are thinking about locating or at least being solicited to locate in the city about why would we ever come here with what’s going on in the city?” Cohen said.

City Councilman Bill Greenlee shepherded the bill through and says he’s surprised people are complaining after it’s been approved and sent to the mayor for his signature.

“I think this is a chance to deal with wage inequity,” Greenlee said. “I think if you take a person’s salary off the table given the history that women and minorities are paid less for the same job, we have a chance of cutting into this wage inequity issue.”

Rob Wonderling, CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, said coming to the councilman right as the bill is on the mayor’s desk is a little late, but the chamber has always been against the bill, even if members didn’t physically testify against it at council.

“We just are hoping for at this late date that let’s create a little more space a little bit more time for a little bit more analysis to reach a balance,” he said.

Mayor Jim Kenney isn’t ready to say if he will sign the bill.

“Doesn’t mean I’m not going to sign it and we’ll see what happens,” Kenney said.

Greenlee said he’s not rescinding the bill from the mayor for reconsideration.

“I just don’t see it having the injurious effect they are trying to make it out to be, by taking one question away not ending discussions, not ending negotiations, none of that, just taking one question away I  think is a reasonable approach to dealing with an issue,” Greenlee said.

If signed by the mayor, a legal challenge from the business community is a possibility.  However Cohen and Wonderling won’t say if they would head for court to challenge it

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